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Single-Biomolecule Detector Array Based On Nanomagnetically Stabilized Magnetoresistive Sensors


<p>This NSF award by the Biosensing/CBET program supports the research led by Profs. Dmitri Litvinov and Richard Willson at the University of Houston and by Prof. Chung-Che Chang at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute aimed at demonstrating a novel biosensor platform capable of unprecedentedly high sensitivity, potentially at a single-molecule level, to biomolecular agents such as DNA, RNA, proteins, antibodies, or pathogens, opening new opportunities in diagnosis and in biological research. The technology leverages dramatic advancements in nanomagnetic sensor technology that have brought us high-capacity magnetic hard-drives for data storage. The intellectual merit of the research is to demonstrate the ability to detect and base biological measurements on only one or a few biomolecular species, thus improving data quality and reliability by the complexity of multiple interactions. This transformative outcome is enabled by the use of a specialized nanomagnetically stabilized ring-sensor geometry to enable superior functionality (single molecule sensitivity, massive arrayability, continuous data, low cost). Magnetic reporter labels can serve as the basis of fully-integrated assays spanning from magnetic affinity capture and washing of analyte targets from dilute or complex sample matrices, to detection with unparalleled sensitivity, to magnetic pull-off force stringency for false positive reduction and maximal specificity. This research will significantly advance a new kind of generally-applicable biosensor technology capable of transformative impact in metagenomics, genomics, proteomics, molecular diagnostics, and cell biology. The sensor platform's capacity for extremely sensitive and specific detection will likely find very broad applications throughout biological research and biochemical technology. Potential applications include medical diagnostics, pathogen detection in food safety application, false-positive-proof biothreat detection, rapid drug screening, and others. The research will also have a significant societal impact as the University of Houston serves the most ethnically diverse student body among doctoral-degree-granting institutions. It is from this diverse student body we draw the bulk of our graduate students. Furthermore, the program will closely interact with the existing REU, RET, GRADE, and GK-12 programs at the University of Houston to enhance the recruitment of underrepresented groups. The program will also provide research projects for the undergraduate Capstone Design program. Moreover, the knowledge gained over the course of this program will be disseminated through the Nanoengineering Minor at the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston.</p>

Litvinov, Dmitri; Chang, Chung-Che; Wilson, Richard
University of Houston
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